Feb 14, 2013 3:13pm
Re: Best of 1977
Can't believe you don't like '77 better having been to many of these shows. What I wouldn't give.....I didn't see my first show til 1979.
anyway...yeah, the set lists are not exactly wildly diverse, but neither are those from 1972, and that was a hell of a great year. I've always been of the mind that I'd rather see a superbly performed show than one with a "wild" set list played with mediocrity or flat out poorly.
1977 is remarkable for the precision and flow and power of the playing. The songs sound clean, with none of the choppiness that so marred much of the 80's, and Jerry's voice was still in pretty good form, unlike the 90's when the band did perform musically well at times but listening to the old man was increasingly difficult.
Think about it: The band members are in their early to mid 30's in 1977. Not too old, but with some experience under their belts. Songs that were "nice" 5 years earlier (Jack Straw, Half Step, Brown Eyed Women, Deal) are now pushed into bigger jams with just as tight execution. There's exciting new material to draw from as well due to the release of Terrapin. 1977 to me is just the Holy Grail.
As for the lack of Winterlands on my list, what can I say? I could easily throw in the whole spring run of 6/7-6/9, and the end of year run up to New Years is just as strong. (As it is, I do have 3 of the 10 on my list from Winterland: 3/20, 6/9 and 12/29).
But May just blows up the whole year. 5/25 is a spectacular show that just slid under my list. 5/17 contains amazing moments and I probably should have included Barton Hall for the DEW alone (altho' the St. Stephen/NFA material is vastly overrated in that show and the first set is perfectly well played without being at all spectacular or better than Boston Garden the night before.)
Ultimately 1977 is about the consistency of greatness in the playing. The closest you'll find to that consistency is, again, 1972...a year I also love. But to me the material from that year is more fleshed out 9at least first set songs are), and I would rather hear 12 minutes of killer jamming on a song like "The Other One" (seriously--check out 5/18/77) than 28 minutes of very good jamming on it interspersed with long passages of atonal feedback or meandering Phil solos, as the song featured in 1972. Just subjective preference I suppose.
Happy Valentine's Day!